Top 365 Films – #077 – Magnolia (1999)

Top 365 Films - MagnoliaDIRECTED BY: Paul Thomas Anderson

STARRING: Jeremy Blackman, Tom Cruise, Melinda Dillon, Philip Park Baker, Thomas Jane, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Jason Robards, Melora Walters, Felicity Huffman, April Grace, Michael Bowen, Michael Murphy, Ricky Jay, Luis Guzmán, Henry Gibson, Danny Wells, Patton Oswalt, Michael Shamus Wiles, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Robert Downey Sr.

BUDGET: $37m

EARNED (Worldwide): $48.5m

AWARDS: Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor



An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.


Magnolia has us follow a collective bunch of characters through 24 hours in Los Angeles and how they are all connected in some way or another and how this day will change their lives forever.


Initially when I first watched Magnolia years back I didn’t really like it. Maybe I was overthinking on the sky of falling frogs or felt that at times the score was overpowering on what was happening on screen or I just felt I was watching this film for a period that felt like forever (clocks in at just over the three hour mark) or maybe, just maybe I wasn’t in the mood for such a complexed and ambitious story of life, death, guilt, forgiveness and hope. After multiple viewings I’ve grown to love Paul Thomas Anderson’s vision and execution here with a large cast and giving everyone their moment to shine. Here the sins of the father (as it were) play a part on their tormented children, from ‘Quiz Kid’ Donnie Smith, who was briefly famous as a child on a TV show who is now broke and a drunk due to his parents taking and spending his money from the show, which then we see parallels with Stanley Spector going down the same route with his father appearing on the quiz show ‘What do Kids Know?’, to Jimmy Gator and Earl Partridge both dying and looking to reconnect with their children that they wronged in some way. From the films opening about coincidences sucks you and holds on tight as you’re taking through the rollercoaster of emotions that follow which some people can relate to, which the film does well is mirror life itself. Possibly a strong contender for best ensemble ever with terrific performances from Tom Cruise as Frank T.J. Mackey, a man whose hatred for his father has carried over to being a motivational speaker on how to conquer women, Melora Walters as Claudia whose fathers actions as a child has led her down the road of being a cocaine addict, John C. Reilly as loner cop Officer Jim Kurring who begins to take an interest to Claudia, Julianne Moore as Earl’s second wife Linda who initially married him for the money but now discovers that she loves him and regrets that she cheated on him and William H. Macy as Donnie Smith, a man who knows he has love to give and is worth loving. In particular from the performances it could be argued that it is Tom Cruise’s best. Just see past what you’ve heard about frogs falling from the sky and give it a chance.


FAVOURITE SCENE: ‘Quiz Kid’ Donnie Smith’s drunken rant at the bar. William H. Macy is terrific in this scene.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘Gwenovier: Come on, Frank. What are you doing?

Frank T.J. Mackey: What am I doing? I’m quietly judging you.’

DID YOU KNOW?: According to Philip Baker Hall, the scene where Frank T.J. Mackey visits Earl Partridge on his deathbed is loosely based on Paul Thomas Anderson’s experiences of watching his father, the late WABC-TV announcer Ernie Anderson, die of cancer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.